The International Cricket Council Board has approved an ICC Test Challenge event which will see the lowest-ranked Test side face the winners of the ICC Intercontinental Cup.
The first set of four five-day challenge matches will be played in 2018 and offer a meritocratic pathway to Test cricket for current Associate and Affiliate Members.
The ICC Board proposes that the 10th-ranked Test side on 31st December 2017, or at the conclusion of any series in progress at that time, will play two matches at home and two matches away against the ICC Intercontinental Cup winners.
The next ICC Intercontinental Cup competition is scheduled to begin in 2015 and end in 2017, with the next event held between 2019 and 2021.
The next ICC Challenge is therefore provisionally scheduled for 2022.
"The ICC Test Challenge now opens the door for Associate Members to play Test cricket and in doing so gives even greater context to the ICC Intercontinental Cup which will now be a pathway to Test cricket," ICC Chief Executive David Richardson said.
At the latest ICC Board meeting, held in Dubai, the board authorised drawing up necessary constitutional amendments required to implement reform of governance and financial models, including an extended Future Tours Programme (FTP) which will now run until 2023.
"The FTP is a very important piece of work as it gives Members long-term certainty in relation to both their playing schedule and financial planning," Richardson added.
"Significant progress has been made but there is still work to be done to develop a balanced calendar of tours and finalise these agreements."
The board congratulated the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) for successfully hosting the ICC World Twenty20 2014, and has also confirmed that the same event structure will be used in 2016.
The top eight sides in the rankings will qualify automatically for the second round with the two sides ranked ninth and 10th taking part in a preliminary competition along with the six sides that will qualify from the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier 2015, which will be staged in Ireland and Scotland between 9th July and 2nd August of next year.
© Cricket World 2014